It’s easy to take the crows in our midst for granted. We see them so often that they eventually fade into the scenery. They’re in the woods, the yard, the salt marsh, on the roads and at the beach. Yet I’ve seldom been inclined to fix my gaze upon them, let alone take their photograph. They’ve always just been part of the background. Until now.
Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans opened my eyes to what remarkable creatures crows truly are.
They possess superior language skills, a proneness to delinquency, a capacity for insight, frolic, passion and wrath, risk-taking, and an awareness that’s well beyond what we might imagine.
Even those among us who would suspect crows of being crafty risk takers would still be surprised to learn that they’ve been seen luring unsuspecting animals onto highways so that these can be feasted upon after becoming roadkill. They can also recognize individual faces, using that information to get an easy meal or avoid people who might harm them. They’ve even been known to wreak vengeance with their droppings on vehicles.
Crows may look serious in their black garb, but they engage in play for play’s sake just like us. Innovative, they’ll also employ tools such as sticks and work together to manipulate squirrels and seagulls to get their food for them.
‘Social Junkies,’ solitary birds will even befriend humans and pets for companionship if they have the opportunity. Since the authors explain crows’ intelligence by pointing to their relatively large brains, could relatively large souls explain their emotional human-like qualities? So much of their nature is still a mystery.
I wonder if the crow shown at the top of this post left a gift of one of its feathers for me on the bridge.
The authors make the argument that crows have all the qualities to make wonderful pets. Due to their many gifts, at the very least, they deserve our respect and attention a little more than we’ve been inclined to give them in the past.
GIFTS OF THE CROW: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans by John Marzluff and Tony Angell
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
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